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Health and wellbeing boards to determine ‘success or failure’ of local commissioning

Changes to the role of the health and wellbeing boards in the Government's revised health bill will make them central to the ‘success or failure' of local commissioning, according to the vice chair of the GPC.

Changes to the boards, outlined in the full Government response to the Future Forum listening exercise published yesterday, include:

- ‘a stronger expectation' for commissioning plans to follow the local health and wellbeing strategy

- boards to be involved ‘throughout the process' of GPs developing their commissioning plans

- a clear right to refer plans back to the clinical commissioning group or the NHSCB for further consideration

- views of the board to be taken into account by the NHSCB when deciding on the authorisation of commissioning groups

Dr Richard Vautrey, a GP in Leeds and vice chair of the GPC, said: ‘Health and Wellbeing boards are going to be the big issue, over the next few months and certainly over the next two to three years.

‘This (health and wellbeing boards) will be what makes this fail or work successfully in your area.

‘If you don't nurture it and develop it you're going to be in real trouble.'

He stressed commissioning groups would need to be involved in the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment and the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

‘So effectively these two bits of work have to be in place before you do your commissioning plans. So you have to be engaged in this process before you can decide what you in your clinical commissioning group are going to do.'

He added: ‘The health and wellbeing board will have a role throughout the process of the development of commissioning plans, so it's not the CCG turning up to the (health and wellbeing) board and saying "here it is guys, is it OK? Does it fulfil the requirements alongside the JSNA?" The Health and Wellbeing Board is involved throughout the process.'

NHS Alliance chair, Dr Mike Dixon, said he had concerns about health and wellbeing boards being another layer putting pressure on GPs.

'While they don't have a strict veto, they willl have a clear right to refer plans back to the clinical commissioning group or NHS Commissioning Board if they are not in line with their own plans. We cannot have commissioning consortia being challenged with every controversial action because they are bound to be faced with a whole range of difficult decisions.'